Alabama sent cornerbacks Trevon Diggs (2020), Patrick Surtain II (2021) and Jalin Armor-Davis (2022) in the bottom three. NFL drafts. In the 2023 class, they have two true star junior CBs in Malachi Moore and Eli Ricks. However, both are coming off uninspiring campaigns after stellar true freshmen. Does Moore’s scouting report prove he’s worth an early round pick, or will he slip further in the draft?
Malachi Moore draft NFL profile
Like most of the Crimson Tide quarterbacks, Moore joined Alabama as a highly rated recruit. He finished his senior season at Hewitt-Trussville High School with 83 tackles (five for loss), four interceptions (two pick-sixes) and eight pass deflections. As a result, Moore was a four-star recruit in the 2020 class and the 19th-ranked safety in the country.
Despite competing offers from Arkansas, Auburn and Georgia, Moore decided to stay close to home, signing with the Crimson Tide. And it didn’t take long for him to find his footing in Tuscaloosa, even if he had to study Nick Saban’s defense mostly via Zoom due to COVID-19.
As a true freshman, Moore showed the football IQ and raw physicality to start as a STAR (slot) from Day 1. By season’s end, he earned second-team All-SEC honors and led Alabama’s defense in tackles for loss (three interceptions and one failed recovery he forced).
However, he seemed to regress last season. From Weeks 8-12 (Alabama was Week 9), Moore has allowed a touchdown in three of four games after allowing just one in 2020. So Saban inserted teammate Brian Branch (also a four-star recruit in 2020) into the starting lineup, leaving Moore on the bench for the rest of the year.
- Position: Corner
- school: Alabama
- Current year: Younger
- Height/weight: 6’0″, 190 lbs
Malachi Moore’s scouting report
Reports from spring camp have Branch as the favorite to earn first-team reps in 2022. If that’s the case, Moore will likely return for his true senior campaign, whether it’s at Alabama or elsewhere — depending on whether Branch plays well and returns, or Moore falls completely out of favor.
But that’s all speculation, and we won’t know Moore’s true role until a few weeks into the season. So for now, let’s evaluate what Moore has already put on tape and his potential as an NFL draft prospect.
Where Moore wins
There are three things that immediately jump out at the screen when watching Moore: physicality, overall athleticism and discipline. Playing in the gap, Moore must contain the lead and kick inside to avoid running away. He does it with visible effort and is not afraid to get his shirt dirty. Even when he’s not the primary receiver, Moore pushes the pile and will even be a sweeper, delivering a final hit to a receiver who is fighting through the initial quarterback.
Transitioning from coverage to run defense is a breeze, as Moore’s fluidity and quickness are elite. And its trigger is one of the best in its class. While Moore isn’t the strongest player, he can fight through blocks from receivers and blow up screens.
If he can’t get to the receiver on a play, he’ll force a double team, giving his teammates a clear lane. Additionally, Moore fires a cannon as a blitzer, creating pressure before a would-be blocker can get out of his stance.
As a slot defender, Alabama’s CB wasn’t asked to press often. However, he has shown the ability to jam at the line of his length as well as redirect WRs downfield. Moore’s safety is easy to see at tackle.
He’s stellar in the open field, knocking down quick receivers, tearing their legs off. Against bigger opponents, he keeps his head up and moves his feet, allowing teammates to fight back as a group when he can’t finish on his own. Moore also won’t give in to fakes and laterals, and he’s usually controlled in his pursuit and angles.
So far so good, right? We haven’t even gotten to my favorite part yet. Moore’s athletic and physical makeup is NFL caliber. At 6’0″ and 190 pounds, he’s stocky and still has room to add muscle. Athletically, the Alabama CB has the speed to carry a WR downfield. It’s not just vertical speed, because Moore has no problem getting close on passes, making late shots a death sentence on offensive drives.
Also, his ability to change direction is exceptional, as he can lift a leg and explode faster than you can say “Roll Tide.” That lateral burst comes in all facets, whether it’s bouncing between bodies around the box, chasing down ball carriers from sideline to sideline, or mirroring a receiver’s moves.
In coverage, Moore stays patient, doesn’t rotate his hips unnecessarily, and stays in phase throughout the route. What impresses me the most is his ability to pressure WRs in the middle of the route. It detects changes in pad level, stride rate, and stride rate — all indicators that a receiver is about to break down. That way, Moore can beat his opponent to where he wants to go, or at least be able to make a play on the ball.
Moore has also shown a penchant for rotating coverages as a safety, covering the ground instantly before and after the snap. His range is impressive, as is his consistent connection throughout reps. Alabama’s CB ensures that the closest defenders are on their toes, especially when the offense moves players. Moreover, Moore’s instincts and ability to recognize the game are off the charts. He sniffs the RPO, raising his arms in quick streaks. And he looks for a job as soon as he realizes that his zone is safe.
Moore area for improvement
Here’s Moore’s main problem: He got lazy with his fundamentals last season. Moore made some questionable decisions that led to him being benched, whether it was going too high on his backside skate or leaving his coverage too early to try to make a play. This may have been due to overconfidence in his physical abilities, as most of the time he managed to get away with it. His lateral quickness and length/speed combo make up for most breakdowns mentally, but it won’t translate to success in the NFL.
During the tackle, Moore would sometimes tilt his head and leave his feet before fully securing the tackle, giving up an extra yard. Although he plays a physical type of football, the Alabama CB can get stuck on blocks from bigger receivers and tight ends in the ground game, which will take him out of the game. He can use his agility to get around block attempts, but if blockers get his hands on it, chances are he won’t be near the ball carrier.
In zone coverage, Moore sporadically keeps his eye on the QB for too long. As a result, receivers work their way into and around his zone, making themselves available for the pass rush. Although he is disciplined in man coverage, it is not uncommon to see Moore abandon his technique (inside/outside) too early, creating holes for the QB to fit passes into.
Finally, much of Moore’s struggles last season could be attributed to a year-long stress fracture. He looks much healthier in the offseason, and camp says Moore is back to his true freshman form. That’s good news, but Moore has to prove it on the field and reclaim a starting position.
Current draft for Alabama CB Malachi Moore
Some bigboards and mock drafts have Moore going in the first round, but it’s hard to put him there right now. After all, he might be riding the pine this season. The thing is, Moore isn’t a projection – we’ve already seen him produce. And the cornerback’s play is relatively inconsistent from year to year, so when you add in his injury last season, his poor play isn’t too shocking.
However, we need to see how Moore bounces back in 2022 before including him in the Day 1 conversation. But the talent, athletic ability and size make for a compelling NFL draft prospect. Moore’s versatility will benefit him as he can line up and thrive wherever the defense needs him. Think Marlon Humphrey or Jalen Ramsey. I wouldn’t put those expectations on a true junior coming off a down season, but Moore could thrive in a similar role.
We may be talking about Moore this time next year as a 2024 NFL Draft prospect if things go the way this season has, but the potential is there. All he has to do is realize it, grasp it, and make it happen.